Bamboo Rat, Dampa Tiger Reserve, Mizoram

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Rodents are amongst the most common mammals; and yet, they are perhaps the most ignored or overlooked. However, for an interested ‘mammals watcher’, this group comprises of some very fascinating creatures. Since my first field season in Mizoram in 2014, a sound from beneath the ground, of something vigorously digging the earth, had always drawn my attention. When asked what animal caused it, people around always had the same answer- ‘sazu’ (rodent). As I learnt more about the rodent involved, … Read More

Growing Oil Palm Threat to India’s Biodiversity

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Oil palm is one of the fastest growing agricultural crops in the world. Oil palm is a highly productive crop, and palm oil is not only cheap but also extremely versatile, and is put to diverse uses as biofuel, lubricant, cooking oil, and as an additive in the food and cosmetic industries. The amazingly rapid expansion of this crop, however, comes at an immense ecological cost – despite the availability of large tracts of unproductive land available for oil palm … Read More

Red Serow, Hmuifang, Mizoram

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Serow are medium-sized goat-antelopes of the genus Capricornis. The taxonomy of serows is not completely resolved; descriptions, range maps, and assessments of conservation status in the literature vary because sources differ on nomenclature and specific/subspecific status of the various taxa. There are six recognized species of Capricornis, of which two occur in India. The Himalayan serow (Capricornis thar) is found over most of the the entire Himalayan range and the Red Serow (C. rubidus) is confined to the … Read More

Blue Pitta, Dampa Tiger Reserve, Mizoram

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Of the 30 species belonging to the family Pittidae, six are found in India. Of these six, the Blue Pitta is amongst the rarest, never having been photographed alive from India.

Although it’s expected distribution spans across all northeastern states except Sikkim, the bird is rarely sighted. In our recent publication in Indian BIRDS, ‘Records of Blue Pitta (Pitta cyanea) in Dampa Tiger Reserve, Mizoram, and a review of its status in north-eastern India’ by Singh and Macdonald, we report … Read More

Ingenious Bird Trapping near Murlen, East Mizoram

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In a recent (Jan 2011) trip to Murlen National Park in East Mizoram, we (Shashank Dalvi, Atul Jain and I) observed rampant bird-trapping near villages. Villagers had set up several traps. We counted 25+ traps in a 1/2 km stretch along the road and released all trapped birds.  A trapped Assam Laughing Thrush (a below-Brahmaputra endemic) first caught our attention. Then we found Flavescent bulbuls, Oriental White-eyes and Leaf-birds also caught in traps.

It is very unfortunate in that there … Read More